In Boston I lived near a phenomenal hole in the wall Thai restaurant, and take-out tofu pad Thai became my regular Thursday pick me up. The chewy noodles soothed away the week's stresses and indignities, while lime, sugar, and chili jazzed me through one last night of correcting math tests. Leftovers, if there were any, tinged Friday morning with giddy anticipation.
I was lazy, and while I had access to take-out I never bothered to make pad Thai on my own. I assumed I couldn't recreate that magical sauce without dozens of imported ingredients. Sadly, Bangor's Thai restaurants either don't know whether their pad Thai is gluten-free, or won't go to the trouble of making it without fish sauce. I'm on my own, and the little portion of my heart that belongs to pad Thai has been lonely too long.
Bittman's recipe calls for tamarind paste, but limes are easier to find and just as good. Tamari works in place of fish sauce. Bittman suggests clubbing pad Thai's intricate flavors over the head with scrambled eggs (the man's fondness for eggs is positively indecent), but obviously we'll omit those, because we are not disgusting. Tailor the sauce to your own tastes, and add any grated or julienned vegetables you like.
Easy Vegan Pad Thai8 ounces flat rice noodles (¼ inch wide)
juice from 2 limes
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup wheat-free tamari
1 teaspoon Sriracha (or other chili garlic sauce)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces extra firm tofu, cubed
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 large carrot, grated Garnish:
mung bean sprouts
Boil a large pot of water and remove from heat. Immerse rice noodles for 6-8 minutes, until soft. Drain and toss with a drizzle of vegetable oil to keep from sticking together. Set aside.
Whisk together sauce ingredients.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high. Fry tofu 4-5 minutes, until golden. Add garlic and toss for 1 minute. Add cabbage a carrot and immediately remove from heat. Toss until vegetables are wilted.
Toss tofu and vegetables with cooked rice noodles and sauce. Top each serving with scallions, cilantro, peanuts, bean sprouts, and a lime wedge.
Makes 3 hearty servings.